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Music vs Noise

By bagginz - Posted on 02 October 2009

After having played a live show at a party recently, I stuck around  to check out some of the other live and D.J sets and to listen to what was on offer musically. During the course of the party, interspersed among the better sets of music.  I was subjected to what I consider to be some particularly ugly and noisy sounding "tunes".  

To be sure, high power trance/dance music is pretty noisy to start with. Add into the mix that the Psytrance genre is largely experimental in nature and that by definition experimentation includes the making of mistakes. (In fact, true creativity requires making mistakes as part of the process)  Add all that to the fact it's often played at insanely loud SPLs and it can all get rather noisy pretty quickly.  

Personally I like loud music, but funny enough I just can't stand loud noise.

While I was on the plane travelling back, it gave me some time to think about the differences. Usually I just  think these things through, but this time I jotted down my thoughts about the nature of music as it exists for me) on to paper as a way of clarifying them to myself. 

Just in case anyone is interested in my pontifications, I've copied them below:

Music vs Noise

What's the difference?

Noise is, well, noise. Noise is random sounds. Chaos, High entropy. No organisation.

But music is intelligence/consciousness expressed as sound. Order. Low entropy. Highly organised.

Sound may be rudimentally organised, ( for example a beeping clock alarm) but that doesn't make it music. (But notice that it needed a consciousness to order those beeps)

One of the primary if not the identifying characteristics of music is it's ability to evoke a emotional response in the listener.

I would go further and qualify that music (as opposed to noise) evokes a positive emotional response in the listener. 

I discount negative emotions because random sound or loud noises can evoke negative emotions; fear, anger etc.

Pseudo music that evokes negative emotions is also ten-a-penny.  Anyone can make a bunch of disordered sounds.  Even a 1 year old can by sitting at a piano and hitting keys randomly.

When hearing music, (as opposed to noise) intelligence/consciousness recognizes itself (in the mirror of music) and communication takes place between the composer and listener triggering an positive emotional response.

To the degree that the composer is successful in capturing and expressing consciousness/intelligence, is the degree to which the composition contains and expresses music

The fundamental tools and language of music i.e. tension and release, theme and variation, melody, harmony rhythmn, repetition etc. are the basic principles with which music is organized and expressed, whether the composer uses these tools consciously or not.  These musical fundamentals are found in and apply to all musical forms whether Classical, Jazz, Death Metal, Punk or banging Trance.

Understanding and mastering musical fundamentals allows the composer to organise and consciously express sound as intelligence - music. 


Billy Cosmosis